US demand to grow 4.3% annually through 2018
Demand for pharmaceutical excipients in the US is projected to rise 4.3 percent per year to $2.0 billion in 2018. In volume terms, demand is expected to grow 1.9 percent annually to 900 million pounds over the same period. While continued growth in pharmaceutical output will be the primary driver of increases in excipient demand, gains will accelerate as excipients play a larger role in bringing additional value to pharmaceutical products by improving properties such as the controlled release or improved absorption of active ingredients.
Preservatives, suspension agents to see strong gains
Trends in pharmaceutical output by dosage formulation will have a strong influence on excipient demand by application. Output of parenteral preparations is expected to rise at an especially strong pace through 2018, supporting demand for suspension agents and preservatives. Solvents are also projected to benefit from increased shipments of parenteral drugs, although gains in dollar terms will be limited by the continued decline in glycerin prices due to oversupply.
Oral preparations are the largest category of pharmaceutical dosage formulations; thus, oral pharmaceuticals tend to require more excipients than other types of drugs and have a significant impact on excipient demand. Shipments of oral pharmaceuticals are forecast to rise at a faster pace than seen in the 2008-2013 period, supporting accelerated gains in demand for fillers, binders, coatings, flavoring agents, capsules, and disintegrants. In addition, oral formulations such as delayed- and extended-release tablets and capsules and dissolving tablets are expected to boost their market share, further raising demand for excipients such as binders and disintegrants.
Specialty excipient blends to add value to product mix
A major development in the excipient and pharmaceutical industries is the increased dependence on specialty excipient blends. Specialty excipient blends can add value to pharmaceutical products by differentiating them from competitive products, and by optimizing the production process. These value-added excipient blends are often formulated for usage in specific manufacturing processes such as direct compression or wet granulation, and are optimized for certain performance characteristics such as delayed- or extended-release oral tablets. Product differentiation will play an increasingly important role going forward as generic pharmaceutical products increase their market share and as consumers take a more active role in choosing their drugs from among a wide range of products with the same active pharmaceutical ingredients.
Polymers to benefit from specialty blend advances
Product versatility will be a key factor impacting product mix in excipient demand going forward, especially as specialty excipient blends play an increasingly important role in pharmaceutical formulation. Polymers -- including cellulose derivatives, povidone, starch, polyethylene glycol, acrylic polymers, and natural gums -- are expected to benefit from this trend as many of these products can function in multiple applications and are easily formulated with other excipients. These favorable characteristics will serve to offset the higher prices associated with some polymers.